Sunday, March 3, 2013

HUSK: History of a Hollow World Part III

There's a whole bunch of references here to races and whatnot. I'm sure not all of it will make sense (I mean it does to me, but I wrote the thing) but check out the previous entries on the people of Husk over here (Part I) and here (Part II).

And for the previous posts on the History, Part I is here and Part II is here.

c 3,600 YEARS AGO

The Battle of Vlata Yhom left both Djakarshi and Calishe in a precarious political position. Their armies had been severely depleted, and their economies drained to fuel their wars. It was only a matter of time before the other Narghwan Queens would strike – and strike they did. There is little accurate information that emerges from this time; suffice to say the Orb was consumed by a terrible conflict that covered every continent and spanned over one thousand years. And despite their best efforts to slay one another, not one of the Narghwan Queens was ever overcome. Cities were levelled, billions sacrificed in the name of conquest and revenge, but no Queen emerged from that vast conflict victorious. Wars are oft praised for the technological advances they create, but the Thousand Year only brought about advances in horror. The greatest atrocity committed took place in the first years of the War, as the Mogramids were transformed into a weapon of terrible power.

As the sponsor of the development of the Mogramids, Queen Calishe was privy to the many failed experiments that were conducted prior to their successful use. Surrounded by jealous Queens and defended by a pathetic shadow of her former army, she was left with no recourse but to defend herself with a dreadful show of force. What she alone knew was that the Mogramids did not need to be targeted on another Mogramid in order to function – by simply aiming at any location on the Orb, the Mogramid could initiate its teleportation sequence and strike the location with a searing blast of lightning. The Wrack, as this new weapon was called, was first used to great effect against Djakarshi, turning huge swathes of verdant jungle and plains into scorched desert. Not surprisingly the other Narghwan Queens avoided conflict with Calishe from then on, allowing her to slowly rebuild after her prior disaster at Vlata Yhom. The War raged on in other lands, and more conventional methods of warfare were used, but it was only a matter of time before Calishe started selling use of the Wrack to the other Queens. It was Queen Harioc who managed to infiltrate Calishe’s palace and discover the secret art of Wrack; she immediately sold this information to the other Narghwan Queens and levelled the playing field considerably.

Use of the Wrack increased dramatically, with each of the Queens attacking their closest rivals. The skies were filled with huge arcs of deadly lightning, erupting from the Mogramids and crashing down on whatever city was destined for ruin. Calishe was particularly ravaged, the victims of her earlier Wrack attacks eager for revenge. Devastation swept across the Orb, and it is quite probable that in venting their hatred for one another the Nargwhans were going to destroy all life on the Orb. Fortunately there was another power of equal strength that confronted the Narghwans, and convinced them to end their use of Wrack.

c 3,400 YEARS AGO

As the main suppliers of food for the Narghwans, the cnidarian Bhulkulbs had considerable influence over the Viperium, and in the worst days of the Wrack they realised that very soon there would be nothing left for anyone to fight over if use of the Wrack did not cease. Envoys were sent to each of the Narghwan Queens with a simple massage – stop using the Mogramids as weapons of war, or the Narghwans would find their food supplies cut off. The message was received well by most of the Queens, but none of them felt they could trust the other Queens to agree to such an accord. Then the Bhulkulbs made an offer – give the Bhulkulbs control of the remaining Mogramids so they could rebuild the damaged trade networks and ensure the Nargwhans’ food supply was well maintained. The Bhulkulbs would then maintain their neutrality til the War was concluded. As for using the Mogramids for the Wrack, the Bhulkulbs proposed to disable the Mogramid’s ability to fire unless targeted at another Mogramid. While many of the Mogramids had been destroyed in the war, it was by more mundane means, for the Mogramids were impervious to the Wrack. It took many years of negotiation, but finally control of the Mogramids was handed over to the Bhulkulbs for safekeeping. While the many atrocities committed by the Bhulkulbs should never be forgotten, nor should this act of foresight and preservation. Even though it was motivated by their own plans for dominance, without it, life on the Orb may well have ceased to be.

c 3,400-3,000 YEARS AGO

There was a brief lull in the fighting after the Bhulkulb Accord, but all too soon it flared up again. The Accord laid down the rules of engagement, which the Bhulkulbs monitored and controlled through the restriction of food supplies. It is clear that the true rulers of the Viperium had become the Bhulkulbs, but the Narghwans, blinded by their determination to destroy one another, paid no heed to the subtle takeover of their power. The next eight hundred years was marked by long periods of warfare, each more brutal and exhausting than the last. There is little to be said of this time, save that in their relentless pursuit of victory the Nargwhans unleashed monstrosity after monstrosity onto the field of battle. Confined as they were to the terms of the Accord, the Narghwan Queens did their best to find new agents of war. An oversight within the Accord did not include the banning of biological warfare, and this led to the creation of terrible creatures designed solely to kill. Known only as the Breed, these hideous creatures where creations of flesh and bone and came in all manner of shape and size and armament. The Breed claimed countless lives during the remainder of the war and have continued to plague the Orb to this day. They were very difficult to maintain any control over, and they turned on their creators as often as they devoured their enemies. At first the Breed were similar is stature to the other sentients, but in their Quest to out do one another the Nargwhan Queens created beasts of immense size, juggernauts of destruction. Out of this time came the legendary Sevenbred, a septet of gargantuan horrors unleashed by the Narghwan Queen Vinvasleen. They quickly broke free of their master’s control, and raged across the Orb bringing indiscriminate death to all they encountered. Six of them still roam the Orb even today. They are known as the Carcassanc, the Vulg, the Kulloathe, the Lacerach, the Mangalore, the Sevseren, and the Rend. Each towered over a mile high and lived only to devour. No army or mountain range or sea could stop their passage, and only when they had eaten their fill would the cease their slaughter. They would then burrow deep into the Orb or sink beneath the waves, and surface again to eat til they are satiated.

c 3,200 YEARS AGO

Perhaps the only deed worthy of praise during the Thousand Year War was the colonisation of the outer planets that orbit within the Orb. The Narghwans had exhausted the resources available to them on the surface of the Orb, and were forced to turn their greed to the planets above them. The Nargwhan Queen Gharda was the first to attempt travel to the outermost world of Mephiyeh. While the other Narghwans waged war with each other, Gharda’s war turned to the skies as she attempted to make the journey in and armada of dirigibles. Her enemies were the Duskeyr, the Lightning Eaters who had lived in the clouds since fleeing the Viperium centuries before. It was a hard fought battle but the Duskeyrs, limited as they were to their lightning weapons, were overcome by the ingenuity of Gharda’s engineers. They developed insulated skinships and scattered metal filaments into the clouds to draw away the Duskeyr’s attacks, and eventually Gharda was triumphant.

When the vanguard of Gharda’s fleets finally landed on Mephiyeh they found a cool uninhabited planet rich in resources. It also gave Gharda the ability to launch attacks from the skies over any part of the Orb that Mephiyeh traversed. Such an advantage over the other Queens was destined to end soon enough, but for the time being Gharda’s power was in ascendance. From Mephiyeh she was able then to strike out towards the planets closer to the Heartsun. Without the Guruun’s assistance Mogramid construction was beyond the ability of the Viperium, and so Mogramids were never raised on the little worlds. Instead the other Queens had to resort to the creation of flying transports or the powers of Imajion, and some even gave the accursed Breed the ability to fly. The other Queens were quick to make their own aerial assaults and the war that was raged on the surface of the Orb was lifted up into the heavens. Thus began the Colonial War, and it was every bit as bitter and terrible as the wars that had come before it.

c 3,000-2,600 YEARS AGO

Wars can only be fought for so long before they consume a nation’s resources and the ability of it people to fight them. The fact that the Thousand Year War was fought for as long as it was is testament to the vast power which each of the Nargwhan Queens wielded, both in ability to manufacture weapons of war and in forcing its subjects to fight. Bound as they were to the whim of the Narghwans there was little they could do, but it was inevitable that Narghwan society would suffer terribly for it. Slowly but surely the decline of the Viperium became evident, as weapons more twisted and terrifying rolled out onto the field of battle, and more eccentric and insane devices were cut loose to fight in the Colonial War. Little remained of those first colonies established on the three outer worlds of Mephiyeh, Pheocudi and Volperqu, destroyed as they were by rival Narghwans or the Duskeyr who still resisted the invasions of the Ether. One by one the colonies were abandoned, and the Colonial Period came to an end. With the Orb nearly stripped of all its resources, the ability of the Narghwans to fight was slowly reduced. The war had clearly taken its toll on the minds of the Narghwan Queens, poisoned as they were but such prolonged hatred of each other. The Imperial edicts that emerged from the Royal Nests grew stranger and stranger, and the few weapons that were developed during this last phase of the Thousand Year War were truly staggering in their peculiarity. Yet there was one weapon still unleashed, one developed by an unnamed Queen centuries before as a last resort. Why she chose to use this weapon when she did is unclear, but it is theorised that she had grown weary of the War, and weary of life, and chose to end it for everyone – including herself. It was to lead to the end of the Thousand Year War, but was heralded by a most unexpected phenomenon.

No-one knew what caused the sudden increase in activity among the Shards that surrounded the Heartsun, but it was recorded in the last years of the Thousand Year War that great activity was occurring in the heavens. It appeared that the Shards had mimicked the life far below them, and had gone to war with each other. To this day astronomers know very little about the Shards, but it is clear that they possess some level of intellect. Whether they have powers of Imajion is yet to be seen, so they are not counted among the Myriad Peoples. Yet over two and a half thousand years ago, the opportunity arose to make contact with one of the Shards – for it fell out of the sky.

It is theorised that some action of the rumoured Shard War had dislodged one of the Shards from its orbit, and sent it plummeting towards the earth. Fortunately for life on the surface of the Orb, it splashed into the seas off the coast of Klulkhun in what was to become the Shardfall Ocean. It rapidly sank to the unknown deeps, and its passage was marked with a giant wave that drowned nearby coastlines, causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands at the time. It is probable that the death toll would be ten times higher had it landed on land. Sadly it sank before any Narghwan scientists were able to study it properly, but the Shard was estimated to be over fifty miles long. The phenomenon was seen as a terrible portent, and it was widely believed that even greater disasters were to follow. Such prophecies were fulfilled in less than a year.

(Part IV tomorrow!)

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